Wunderman Health EMEA lead Mo Zouina and Wunderman Health Global client lead Cassandra Sinclair give their views on the new technologies and practices that could change marketing in the near future

We always say that nothing is more personal than health. It’s increasingly important for healthcare marketers to act on this truth with marketing that is more human and personal.

This starts with data and unique insights about the audience. It’s important for brands to dig deeper than basic demographics to understand what is important to their customers, where they could use help, and how they would like to get that help.

The traditional marketing channels used to reach audiences are not going anywhere, but healthcare brands should use more personalised strategies to bring people more value. Emails can be tailored to address the specific challenges different groups of customers are experiencing. User-friendly apps can support patients through different steps in their journeys, sending them content like encouraging messages when they might be having a bad day and tips for combatting common side effects from medications. In disease states where people might feel stigmatised, people might feel more comfortable having certain conversations with voice-equipped technology than with a person.

The opportunities are endless, but they all start with data and a firm understanding of an audience’s customer journey.

Healthcare marketers should prioritise developing their digital, social and experiential (e.g. voice, AI) capabilities. Research has demonstrated that more personal marketing can do a much better job inspiring people to take action. While data fuels personalised marketing strategies, digital offers the opportunities to target groups of people with tailored content, tools and resources.

We are moving from a typing and reading world to a speaking and listening world, in which the brands who learn to effectively use voice technology will have a significant competitive edge.

Healthcare is personal and a voice strategy should make it more, not less, human. In disease states where people feel stigmatised, research suggests they will actually open up more to machines, which cannot judge them, than people. Doctors can use voice-equipped aides to access information and take notes more rapidly, which can improve everything from driving better outcomes to enabling better, more personal conversations with patients.

Some brands might view voice technology as the future, but it’s quickly becoming the present. Already, 20% of all online searches occur with voice and that percentage is expected to reach 50% over the next two years.

The rise of IoT (intelligent and conversational connected devices) is quickly following. Amazon’s bifurcated Alexa already allows companies to embed ambient voice in everything from a hair dryer to your coffee machine. This brings with it countless opportunities to engage with people better, bring them value and improve healthcare.

As improving health outcomes and partnering with people to help them lead healthier lives become increasingly important, so does understanding how more personal content can help people change their behaviours.

Many healthcare marketers are still deploying strategies that fail to meet customer needs and expectations. As pressure to drive down costs and improve outcomes mounts, and as new players break into healthcare and set the bar for customer experience higher, traditional healthcare marketers must evolve.

A critical step is beginning to inform marketing strategies with real data about people and what will inspire them to healthy actions. Another is beginning to use new technologies to create the better experiences that customers are coming to expect and that will improve their lives.

Finally, an important piece is understanding how to measure results and attribution. We should no longer measure success with metrics like clicks and impressions alone. Instead, we must look at how people are responding to content on an emotional level – including using new platforms like facial recognition software to assess cognitive responses – and how we are affecting people’s healthcare choices. We should gauge success by measuring real action, both immediate and that taken over periods of time.